Are you a photographer? A graphic designer? A wedding planner? A coach? A Social Media Strategist? Do you feel like you feel like you’re in the crowd and you’re just one out of a bunch of people who are wanting to get hired for the same gig?
Even with the Rising Tide Society’s #communityovercompetition movement, it can feel like a stalemate when we’re competing against our peers to have potential clients glance in our direction, hoping for a chance at them hiring us.
How do you set yourself apart in a market where there are tons of people “who do the same thing” as you? (I put that in quotes because just because somebody uses the title that’s the same doesn’t mean that they are the same)
Here’s a caveat that I feel I have to mention. The quality of your work should be consistent. People can look at your work on your website and understand that the quality they see there is close to what they’ll receive by working with you. None of the things we’ll talk about below will matter if you’re not producing quality work!
Here are some tips on how to differentiate yourself in a highly saturated market. Also at the end of this post enjoy a free worksheet on How You Can Stand Out in a Crowded Market.
1. What’s your experience?
This is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise. Whether it be in your business or in the rest of your life, let your audience know what makes you different or unique. If you are trying to figure out what makes you different and you can’t nail it down, you might talk to somebody who doesn’t know you as well who can pinpoint the experiences in your life that are important to share.
In one situation, a woman asked me about how she could set herself apart from other graphic designers in the online space. I knew enough to tell her what I thought made her stand out. It wasn’t about graphic design (I don’t know how to gauge the quality of that besides what I can see), but it was about her personal experience. She was an adoptive mom to a boy from Uganda, was passionate about educating the world about how to amplify your brand voice to make a bigger impact through branding and design. She was also bilingual and had a ton of other international influences in her life. If that’s important to you, highlight parts of your experience.
2. What do you believe?
Letting people know what you stand for is a great way to set yourself apart. It could be your brand philosophy, how you believe the best work is produced, or your training. If you have an opinion to something that’s controversial in your industry that you’re willing to take a stand on, share that. Having an opinion and stating it is a bold way to show how you’re different.
As a coach, I have a belief that while there are plenty of people who are good at what they do without training, I am a more effective coach because of my coach training. Having the background in an International Coach Federation accredited program gives me not only more credibility but also the tools to be a stronger coach for my clients.
3. What’s the one thing?
When there are so many people who are competing for the same audience, it’s helpful to be known as the “go to” person. The way that you can do that is to shape your brand to speak to the “one thing” you want to be known for. It can be an actual thing, feeling or concept.
If you think of Apple products, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, even though they have a ton of different products. When you think of Simon Sinek, you’d probably think of “your WHY,” when you think of Starbucks, you know you’re probably going to think coffee. When there are plenty of people and companies doing the same thing as you, saying the same types of things, doing the same kinds of work, show them that you can be known for the one thing. Specializing can be key to getting known for one thing.
4. What’s your process?
Not only is the end result the most important thing. The process through which a customer or client goes through can be just as important. People want to feel taken care of and like they are important. Think about great customer service you’ve experienced. What made it so unique and memorable? Was it the way that the packaging, the delivery, the process, the thoughtfulness or the whole things? Client experience is a huge part of the overall experience so take time in making sure that is consistent with the rest of your brand! (This is something I’m still working on!)
5. How do you look?
Your aesthetic should be unique and consistent with the rest of your message. Ask any branding strategist or graphic designer that specializes in brand development to tell you better than me: your visual brand isn’t just a logo, color palette or a few fonts.
Just because everybody in your industry looks a certain way or has named their brand a certain type of name (like first name middle name designs) doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Choose something that really makes sense for how you want to be referred to in the future.
Here’s what you should know…
Know that being different means that you might not “look” like those around you. You might stick out like a sore thumb and like the one kid in kickball who didn’t get picked. Here’s the thing. That doesn’t matter. The right person will find you and connect with your portfolio, your work, your quality and everything else that helps you to stand out. So be brave enough to stand out from the crowd.
HOMEWORK: What are you doing now to stand out from the crowd? What do you know you need to work on so you can be differentiated? Use my Stand Out in a Crowded Market Worksheet to get started!
Download your free copy of my Stand Out in a Crowded Market Worksheet here!